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King Affonso I Of Congo His Life, Accomplishments, And Importance Of His Anti Slavery Work

1159 words - 5 pages

King Affonso I, the venerated king of Congo, is one of the most influential and groundbreaking characters in the history of Africa. Once he converted to Christianity and became king, Affonso realized the abhorrence of slavery withing his state, for it was completely destroying his country through depopulation. Consequently, he sent a letter to King John of Portugal in 1526, outlining his hopes to eradicate Portugese influence upon his country. Ultimately, King Affonso I of Congo proves to be one of the most innovative modern-day thinkers of his time, for during his captivating life, he was the forerunner in the abolition of slavery, all of which was outlined in his letter to King John of Portugal. King Affonso I of Congo, known as the "people's king," was a man who saw his country not as a group of separate cultures, but rather, as a unified nation (Billings 22). When he was crowned king, he changed his name from Nzinga Mbemba to King Affonso I, hoping to indicate his newfound faith and power. When the New World was discovered, a new labor force was needed to grow the cash crops, especially sugar cane in the Carribean. The Portuguese began to negotiate with King Affonso of Congo, convincing him that the slave trade would make him very profitable. King Affonso agreed and the slave trade began. The trade began as thousands of slaves were shipped to the Carribean in the first year, escalating to millions shortly thereafter. However, Affonso soon realized that the immense exportation of slaves had gotten out of hand, for the Portugese began trading with the chiefs instead of him directly, thus undermining his authority. Additionally, when he was converted to Christianity in 1525 A.D, he realized the violation of human rights which his people experienced. Furthermore, in 1526 A.D, he wrote a letter to Lisbon complaining about the corruption of the Portuguese slave traders, saying they were "completely depopulating" his kingdom. However, this didn't stop the Portuguese. They won a short war against Congo, and even after King Affonso I died, the trade continued. King Affonso's letter to King John of Portugal in 1526 A.D. expressed several demands, all of which hoped for an increase in human rights and more prosperity for the people of Congo. The letter first stated that the kingdom of Congo was being ruined in several ways. This demolition was being caused by the excessive freedom given by the Portugese men and merchants who were allowed to come and set up shops, selling goods which were prohibited by Congo's government. Congo's own chiefs didn't obey the government, mimicking the Portugese, for they became much more wealthy than the government itself. By them not obeying the government, they were not only destroying the security and peace of the kingdoms, but also, their human rights. The damage that the Portugese did couldn't be estimated, for the mentioned merchants were trading Congo's natives, the sons of the land, noblemen,...

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